|I HAVE DECIDED to fight back …again and to do so robustly, with
humility and fairness.
I also believe that though I have not been elected or asked by anyone to do the things that I have committed myself to do for Sierra Leone, and if I wish to be taken seriously when I speak and write about issues like corruption, transparency and accountability, then I too should be seen to be practising them even if there is no pressing need for me to do so. I propose to do this as often as I can, i.e. give account of my stewardship to anyone who cares or wants to know.
This course of action will not be the first that I have taken. When in 1995, because of my concern, I sought to meet and confront the RUF about their violent campaign in the country and to impress on them the need to cease hostilities and talk peace, I was deliberately singled out, vilified and accused unjustly of being their sympathiser and collaborator. Yet I was doing just what good journalists do - investigative reporting which, it seems to me, some (but thankfully not all) of our so-called journalists were not prepared to do especially when the RUF was a mystery to most Sierra Leoneans. Remember those days when people claimed Sankoh did not exist, he was an invention; that the RUF were not Sierra Leoneans - they were just Liberians, Ivorians and Burkinabes; that they were just a small band of marauding gangsters, etc., etc? I sought to demystify the palpably bogus myths about the war and, in the process, the politicians blamed me, the messenger!
I was forced into committing a whole edition of Focus on Sierra Leone(See Vol. 2 No 6) to defend myself from the spurious attacks that followed my visit to Abidjan to talk to Sankoh and his men. Even after that, the malicious undertones continued as they have to the present. I say shame on those who can't bring themselves to see the truth about themselves!
For the last thirty years I have written and commented on virtually all aspects of life in Sierra Leone both as a student and now as an independent, professional working person. In all, my motivation has been the well-being of the people of Sierra Leone and at no gain for myself as a person. I have never asked for or aspired to political office and that remains true even today. I am just a patriot who wants the best for my country and nothing or no one will deflect me from that.
I have been provoked on numerous occasions but I know now that these are the various ways to which some people have resorted in order to force me to give up the struggle and to fall in line with their own wicked unwritten agenda of disruption, corruption, exploitation and misrule for Sierra Leone. I am no fool and I can smell one from this far away. So I will press on come what may.
Recently, the Democrat newspaper in Freetown threatened that I will have "to pay with my blood" for supporting the call for peace with the rebels. Another, For Di People, claimed that I was one of the instigators of the "Arms to Sierra Leone Affair" (which rocked the British Government for a while) passing information to the great and noble earl, Lord Avebury - one of the truest and committed friends of Sierra Leone yet to be recognised. The Concord Times too mischievously claimed that the RUF was considering me as one of their men for Cabinet office. All barefaced lies!
Kamajoh supporters in London and the US were threatening that I will be decapitated (I always thought only the RUF did these things!) if I ever return to Sierra Leone. I had never heard so much crass bunkum in my whole life!
Then just last week, I was accused of being in Liberia with Sankoh, Koroma and of having been in the company of both men as the landed from the plane in Freetown, with me there "as their man". Don't laugh! This is serious! How come? Simply because Mr Peter Andersen (God bless him!) on the Sierra Leone News web courteously quoted some stories that I carried on the Focus web site (yes, this one!) about delays in the travelling plans of the two rebel leaders. Either they did not understand the simple English that Andersen wrote in, or someone is bent upon craeting mischief. But they will not succeed.
Yet all I did was to use a simple telephone to contact one of my usual sources, this time in the Executive Mansion in Monrovia to request an explanation as to why the people of Sierra Leone had again been let down by the rebel leaders whose arrival was so eagerly expected. I got a reason, which I immediately posted on my site. Andersen reported me accurately but then the illiterate moronic rabble gave it their own deliberate (mis)interpretation. One idiot sent me a cryptic email saying "why don't you tell us that you have been with Sankoh and others all the time?" What a disconsolate, decrepit imbecilic arsehole, he was! I was right here in London. I presently do not even have a valid passport, and for the last 9 months or so, because it has since expired. I am just about to send it to the Foreign Ministry .... ( No! Not the (UK) Home Office, you idiot!) …in Freetown. So I have been grounded for that period and have not travelled outside the UK. Gotcha!
You see, my friends, all these years I have as a matter of principle resisted taking a British passport, which is my entitlement on any account. I however firmly hold that I cannot so publicly espouse the cause of my country (as I do) while at the same time hiding behind the nationality of another. I know it suits many, including some who hold, or have held, very high office in the country, to switch their Sierra Leonean and other passports in their possession around as objects of convenience. That's their choice and I do not begrudge them one bit. No doubt, the day when Sierra Leone says it won't give me a passport I shall then exercise my right to take out a British passport but not until then.
I have no animosity towards my own compatriots who because of the ignorance among them tend to mimic the malicious and spiteful disposition (or is pretensions?) of those whom they consider as their leaders. I however feel very aggrieved and hard done by, by those in authority who in fact always know the real truth about some of the accusations that are levied against innocent people in that wretched country. They remain deliberately silent only because it serves their purpose. In other words some of us have been turned into scapegoats for the personal gratification of those in power who do not wish to give account, or for their weaknesses to be exposed, as they often are on this site and in this newsletter, to the rest of society. It is heart rendering. I personally know at least four members of the present Cabinet who, if they wanted to, could easily put a stop to the ridiculous and childish name calling of innocent people. But they sit there and sometimes encourage it if not actively then merely by their reticence. Have you ever heard or seen any official government pronouncement with concrete evidence placed within the public domain about anybody whom they have accused of supporting the rebels?
I have now been told by my friends that the current bout of false accusations is a direct reaction to my last two articles about the kleptocratic state that Kabbah and his corrupt ministers run. (See Corruption (Part 1) and Corruption (Part 2). I repeat! The country is a vast den of thieves. That is the fact. So let him or her whom the cap fits wear it. I remain resolutely unbowed. So once again, there you have it!
I am fighting back for the sakes of those who are neither able to respond nor have the resources to do so. In fighting back, I will from time to time reproduce reports and accounts of what others and I have done to promote Sierra Leone's welfare. My aim will not be to embarrass individuals but to inform an otherwise poorly ill-formed nation about itself. but I shall stop at nothing to expose the duplicity and deception of some of the key players in the political life of the country.
The plain fact is that one does these things, in spite of the negative people around, not for rewards or the attainment of political ambitions but for the public good and out of a patriotic sense of duty. It is time we demonstrate these concepts in our midst because they are the indicators of a progressive, well ordered and harmonious and caring society. Is anyone surprised about the total lack of organisation and progress in our country's affairs, war or no war?
So let's get it straight …again.
I almost feel a sense of humiliation repeating this, but I will nonetheless. I have never belonged to the RUF, never encouraged them or ever even dreamt of sharing their ideas. Nor did I support or justify the AFRC in their coup d'état against Kabbah. But I tried hard in my own modest way to get them to reverse their actions. But I do know however that it was Kabbah and his government that created the conditions that made it possible for that illegal action to take place. There were no saints in that debacle. (I shall post on this site, the full transcript of one my conversations with Johnny Paul Koroma and several of his men during my many (vain as it turned out) attempts to convince them that there was a peaceful way out of the situation then.)
Talking about opportunism as some other jackass recently accused me of, I might as well lick Kabbah's boots to get what (people imagine) I want and I am sure I would succeed. Sadly, I am no bootlicker. I did not lick President Siaka Stevens', ex president Momoh's, Captain Strasser's or Brigadier Maada Bio's. But I dished the truth out to them as I saw it and came into conflict with all of them without exception. Now they are all out of power but I soldier on. I am content with what I am, have got and do. So how come people feel I can put my future and ambitions (they cannot know what these are anyway!) in the hands the RUF? This kind of reasoning shows how the thought processes of Sierra Leoneans have been so badly messed up by the fallout from the civil war.
I know President Kabbah personally more than most who claim to be close to him. If I wanted to get involved in the political power game, I think I am right in saying that I have had plenty of chances in the past. Political office would be easy for me to grab simply by just tying myself up like an umbilical chord to say Kabbah, as many have done, rather than take the glaringly laborious and uncomfortable course of associating with a group that is accused of some of the vilest atrocities against their fellow human beings. By the same token I will be the last to get into bed with a group of thieves and liars in any government of Sierra Leone which does not like the truth being told about it to the people. If the present government thinks I am their problem they obviously have not learnt any lessons from the dirty war that has ravaged poor Sierra Leone over these last 9 years.
I do not dislike Kabbah. The accusation is utterly ridiculous. I am sure he too will think the same of it. But I was vehemently opposed to his policies for war and his ill-advised recourse to anything, including the use of force, to get himself restored to power. The country did not deserve that! Those who died in that process did not deserve their fate.
But I will support any policy he has for peace, including Lomé which I have publicly endorsed and recommended to all Sierra Leoneans as worthy of their support. That's because peace, with justice for everyone including both offenders and victims, is the only constituency to which I belong and direct my courage and strength. The irony is that many of Kabbah's known supporters, especially here in London, have publicly opposed him and the agreement. They still want to go to war …but at a safe distance from the action. Cowards!
One current research I am undertaking is to put together a compendium of many statements one has published in Focus on Sierra Leone, or made via other media outlets, about how to settle the war in Sierra Leone. With hindsight they appear to have been prophetic. I am not a prophet, mind you! But one at least had the instinct to look ahead and presage the turn of events if certain courses of action were taken, or not. After so many years of writing, I often feel I am repeating myself. So in order to save my time, energy and precious resources I propose to recycle some of my statements, diagnoses and prognoses on Sierra Leone's future that I have made, notwithstanding (as my distracters often say) my not having lived in the country for a long time. But so what? Do you need to live with a killer or a fool to know what they do or are capable of doing?
In November 1996, I had cause to talk to President Kabbah about a meeting that I attended which touched on many aspects of his government and its performance. I contacted him and gave him a verbal rundown of some points of the discussions. He felt quite excited about it and asked me to write down a memo and send it to him. I am today placing this within the public domain because the issues that I deposed to, then, are in essence the same issues we are dealing with today. Soon he will appoint a new Cabinet which must include the rebels.
The letter is instructive and was never meant to be secret. It was written at a time when I was occasionally in touch with him. I wish to share the sentiments in it with those of my compatriots who continue to give me support, encouragement and inspiration. It is reproduced here solely for their sakes. Only one deliberate deletion, which will be highlighted, has been made for purely legal reasons.